The events follow a period of turmoil in the Legion after revelations that its founder, Fr. Marcel Maciel, lived a double life, sexually abused seminarians, and fathered children. The Vatican responded by calling for a period of reform and renewal, including a redefinition of the Legion’s mission and governing structure.
The General Assemblies will determine the future of the Legion. In addition, Pope Francis is expected to make a final decision regarding the spiritual family by 2014.
“These external milestones that are passing are being accompanied by the interior journey of each one of us,” the letter said.
“We have to bear the wounds of a painful institutional past, above all the feeling of a broken fatherhood and the pain associated with the human errors that have been committed and that have made us suffer.”
For many, the letter observed, “this situation has led us to find the Lord once again in our lives and vocations. This experience of grace calls for deep gratitude towards God. Yet, others have experienced new sufferings. Thus we realize that, at least to some degree, some of the sense of the beauty of our calling has been lost.”
As a consequence, it continued, “our mutual esteem and trust – so necessary for the life of a family – have atrophied. To this we can add the pain of those who have chosen to leave consecrated life or apostolic commitment in Regnum Christi, either because they felt deceived or as a result of a personal journey.”
The authors of the letter say that the preparation for the “Easter” of the upcoming general assemblies has to be preceded by a “Lent” aimed at renewing the Legion and Regnum Christi in holiness.
Therefore, the leaders of the spiritual family are calling for a renewal “in our personal lives,” which “presupposes prayer, a sincere effort to go along with the grace of conversion” and an authentic “willingness to reach out to those who feel hurt or have distanced themselves from us.”
“Those of us in positions of authority hope to continue moving forward along the path of renewal that the Church has marked out for us,” the letter said.
“We want to arrive at the Chapter and the Assemblies having reached a greater clarity regarding the gift God is giving to the Church by means of Regnum Christi, having determined the rules and structures that will most help us to conserve the charism, and having put in place what is needed to overcome what needs to be purified in our mentality and customs.”
It added that the authorities are “committed to continue reaching out to those who have suffered more.”
The letter is accompanied by a special novena to the Sacred Heart.
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One of the prayers included in the novena says: “Grant us, Lord, the grace to forgive others with the goodness with which you embrace our own sins and to let go of grudges against those who have made us suffer. For the times in which we have closed our hearts to forgiving our brothers and sisters, letting ourselves be driven by bitterness and spite... Heart of Jesus, wounded out of love for us, forgive our sins and give us a new heart.”
One day before the release of the letter and novena, Pope Francis received the Pontifical Delegate of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, in a private audience.
According to a press release from the Legion of Christ, “the whole outcome of the journey of renewal that Regnum Christi and the Legion of Christ have undertaken, hand-in-hand with the Pontifical Delegate, will be presented to the Holy Father, who will have the final say.”